Yoga Teachers Are Fractured Too

Creative Commons License photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller

Some days, it can be hard. We yoga teachers are in the business of helping people feel good. Feel good about themselves, their bodies, their practice, their poses, their lives. Most days, it is our sheer pleasure. But you know what? We are human. And as such, every once in awhile, our lives go on the blink.

We teach because we are fractured.


I heard Donna Farhi say these words to a group of yoga teachers exactly ten years ago, days before that 9/11. She was speaking about the role of the teacher, and added that

 practice is not about eradicating our frailties, our dark side, it is about accepting our full spectrum. To be large and courageous enough to embrace those human aspects, and stay in our center as these feelings wash over us.”

In her utter honesty, she shared that in her “crushing sadness” after her brother’s death from cancer. She said she got “stuck in being scared,” and wanted to give up. She wondered how to encompass the despair within the sadness, and go on teaching students the joy and vibrant health of yoga.

Of course, she made it through the dark despair, and has become one of the most inspirational yoga teachers in the world. Farhi en-couraged (prompted our hearts) us to be honest with our students about our moments of intense pain, as it helps them with their own grief to see that we are human.

This author has an honesty alert.

I’m scared right now. I’m one of the economic statistics you read about, that you maybe are, too. The unemployment benefits ran out two months ago. I just got notice the house I’m renting is being sold. I’m feeling shaky ground. But, I’m a yoga teacher. This means a couple of things. My income from teaching these days is enough to say, cover food for myself and my two cats, but the bucks stop about there.

While I take Donna Farhi’s wisdom to heart, and sure, my students can learn something from seeing my human grief, if I don’t shine brightly each time they come to class, who wants to take a class from a yoga teacher who is smudged with shades of despair?

 Creative Commons License photo credit: Ryan Forsythe

I call out to you, fellow yoga teachers and students alike.

When live presents its despair, what tips do you have for “turning that frown upside down” (add this to the benefits of headstand)?

What are some constructive ways to share “crushing sadness” without your yoga class turning into an inflicted therapy session?

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- who has written 41 posts on Yoga Modern.

Barbra Brady is the Art Editor at Yoga Modern. She holds an MA in Museum Exhibition Theory & Cultural Studies, which she has exercised as a museum curator of contemporary art, nationally published writer, leader of a venerated nonprofit yoga retreat foundation, and now, yoga with a slant on channeling creative energy. When not practicing or teaching yoga in the tradition of her teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker (as a Certified Level IParaYoga teacher) or as an iRest Yoga Nidra practitioner, Barbra practices the yoga of “curiosity.” The curiosity that fuels her imagination may be through writing, curating, a turn of leaf or phrase, cinema, a century ride on her road bike… She’ll be sharing her curatorial picks and original musings, as she whispers in the ear of the Yoga Modern community: “Hey, look at this!” She lives in Sonoma, California, an Eden which naturally prompts her reflections on nature, food, and yes, wine (in meaningful moderation).

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